Charles Francis “Chuck” Feeney (born April 23, 1931) is an Irish-American businessman and philanthropist and the founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest private foundations in the world.
He made his fortune as a co-founder of the Duty-Free Shoppers Group, which pioneered the concept of duty-free shopping. Feeney gave away his fortune in secret for many years, until a business dispute resulted in his identity being revealed in 1997. Over the course of his life, Feeney has given away more than $8 billion.
In 1982, Feeney created The Atlantic Philanthropies, and in 1984, secretly transferred his entire 38.75% stake in DFS, then worth about $500 million, to the foundation. Not even his business partners knew that he no longer personally owned any part of DFS.
For years, Atlantic gave away money in secret, requiring recipients to not reveal the sources of their donations. “Beyond Mr Feeney’s reticence about blowing his own horn, ‘it was also a way to leverage more donations––some other individual might contribute to getting the naming rights.'” The largest single beneficiary of Feeney’s giving is his alma mater Cornell University, which has received nearly $1 billion in direct and Atlantic gifts, including a donation of $350 million enabling the creation of Cornell’s New York City Tech Campus.
He gave away his last $7 million in late 2016, to the same recipient of his first charitable donations: Cornell. Over the course of his life, he has given away more than $8 billion.